Things the Binghamton broadcast team talked about tonight other than pitch type or velocity…
- Jorge Posada’s OBP
- Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe/where he died
- Mickey Rivers
- Going to Spring Training and getting a baseball from a career minor leaguer.
- Women in the stands wearing beards (granted it was 2 for 1 drink night for people with beards. Ladies must really like the Labatt Blue)
- How 5’3" New Britain shortstop Chris Cates is ‘hardnosed.’ (he also sports a career high OPS of .614 in the minors. GRISSION!)
But what you probably care about, like me, is Jeurys Familia’s AA debut. Well, it was pretty good. Though maybe not quite as good as the raw statline would suggest.
Familia threw 88 pitches on the night according to my chart. (I was running one ahead of the play-by-play guys chart all night). He threw 57 strikes and 31 balls, a very strong ratio. Early on in the game, Familia was content to pound the zone with fastballs. He got bunches of groundballs early, which the B-Mets defense was happy to boot or throw away. Or, if your Josh Satin, boot and then throw away. Familia didn’t really unleash much offspeed stuff until the end of the second inning. Interestingly, he started off throwing it when he was behind in counts, but was able to get called strikes with it all night.
One of the upsides of throwing a lot of sinking fastballs in the zone is you generate a lot of quick at-bats. Familia only went to one three-ball count all night, and didn’t walk anyone, though he did hit a batter. He recorded seven outs on two pitches or less, and the most pitches he threw to a single batter was six. All three of his six pitch at-bats resulted in strikeouts.
Part of the reason he didn’t go deep in counts is New Britain is a free swinging team, who was more than happy to jump on Familia's fastballs early in the count. They have also been one of the better offenses in the Eastern League, even though the only real position prospect on the team is OF Joe Benson. As they game wore on they did start to elevate Familia’s pitches and drive them. His last five in play outs were all flyballs and Lorenzo Scott had to run down a couple deep flies. SS Mike Holliman also just missed a home run, curling the ball foul. Familia was still generating strikeouts in the late innings, but he might have been tiring a bit as he got up over 70 pitches, and perhaps started elevating his fastball. He did seem to throw more breaking stuff later in the game as best I could tell.
I didn’t get many velocity readings, but the ones I got on the fastball were all at 94, and the scoreboard gun apparently showed him hitting 96. I had a slider at 86, and another offspeed pitch of some sort in the low 80s. The announcers did regularly comment on the movement of Familia’s fastball. He was also able to backdoor a couple breaking pitches for called third strikes.
So while I wouldn’t necessarily classify Familia’s start as dominant, though he was overpowering at times, he was very efficient. This was certainly a good first start at AA for a guy who was struggling to throw strikes at St. Lucie last year.
Some things to watch going forward in AA:
Can he maintain his high groundball rate?
How does he do in the middle and later innings, say after pitch 60 or so?
And of course, how is the change-up coming along?
Even with those questions yet unanswered, Familia has to be shooting up Mets prospect lists. While I imagine he will spend the rest of the year at Binghamton, he could be up to Flushing as soon as September 2012, something that looked very unlikely six months ago.